Starting last Thursday, Gretchen kept getting calls from Hunter Biden, requesting a consultation. As it happens, Hunter is on my list of people who have to pay up front – there are plenty of good reasons for not waiting for Hunter Biden to pay a bill. The first time he called, he told her he wanted one of my free initial consultations, then she reminded him that he had already had one, back before the 2020 election. His reaction was to say that couldn’t be true, but given Hunter’s copious intake of various mind altering substances, it’s very possible that he had simply forgotten. Gretchen read back the details of that consultation, he relented, and asked to speak with me personally for a moment about the matter.
Well, Gretchen’s not one to comply with requests like that without consulting me first, and I was booked solid all day, so it was not until early Thursday evening that she notified me of his request, by which time Hunter had called my office back no less then eleven times.
“I don’t know who this guy thinks he is,” she griped.
“I do,” I assured her. “He thinks he’s the son of the President of the United States. Book him for ten minutes on the telephone Friday morning.”
So she did.
Hunter: Hello? Tom Collins?
Hunter: This is Hunter Biden.
Tom: I know. Gretchen tells me you want a consultation.
Hunter: I don’t want one, Tom! I need one!
Tom: Okay, no problem – you know my fees. Wire the money to my business account and Gretchen will book you for a consultation on Tuesday, depending on what slots are available.
Hunter: I can’t do that.
Tom: Why not?
Hunter: I can’t afford it.
Tom: You? Can’t? Afford? It? Who are you kidding?
Hunter: No, seriously, I’m really strapped for cash and I need to talk to somebody about this [expletive] that’s going down – somebody who isn’t a lawyer or one of my relatives! Come on, Tom, you know I’m good for it! I’ll pay you as soon as this mess gets straightened out!
Tom: Oh, all right. But I’m not compromising my reputation by giving consultations on credit in my office, and I’m flying out of town with my girlfriend right after work Friday for a long weekend in Montreal. So you’ll have to call me at home on Tuesday night.
Tom: I’ll be conducting consultations remotely, and then working late to prepare for Wednesday’s at the office; call anytime between six and eleven.
Hunter: Okay. Thanks!
And he did.
Tom: Hello, Hunter.
Hunter: You knew it was me?
Tom: Caller ID did.
Hunter: Uh… but… I… hell, that’s some [expletive] awesome [expletive] of a Caller ID you have there.
Tom: Yes, it is. What’s on your mind?
Hunter: Ah, yeah. First of all, as I’m sure you have heard, somebody leaked that the FBI agents investigating me say there’s enough evidence to charge me with tax crimes and for making false statements related to a gun purchase.
Tom: Well, practically every FBI agent who’s been on a case more than a month believes they have enough evidence to convict the suspect. It doesn’t really mean anything. As far as I know, it’s all anonymous “deep background” stuff. Sounds like either Devlin Barrett or Perry Stein got one of their sources drunk at the Capitol Grille and wrote down that chucklehead’s bragging in his notebook. You’re a lawyer, you know what matters is whether DOJ prosecutors think they have enough evidence. And besides, you didn’t commit any tax crimes or make any false statements while purchasing firearms, right?
Hunter: Like you said, I’m a lawyer. And what I know is, it doesn’t matter what a person thinks they did or not, what matters is what the FBI thinks they did.
Tom: Thinks? Was that a Freudian slip?
Hunter: Freudian slip? This has nothing to do with those sex videos!
Tom: Not every Freudian slip has to be about sex, Hunter. They are unintentional errors in speech that reveal subconsciously concealed facts, feelings or proclivities. Did you, by any chance, say “thinks” because you don’t remember buying the gun?
Hunter: What kind of question is that?
Tom: The kind of question one asks if one’s interlocutor happens to be a known alcoholic drug addict. Such people often do things they can’t remember later.
Hunter: Hey! What are you talking about? I’m not a drug addict or an alcoholic now!
Tom: Well, a person can quit being a coke fiend. But an alcoholic is an alcoholic forever. So, could you have been drunk or high, or both, when you bought that gun, and just, perhaps, have forgotten that you have a mental and drug history when you filled out the BATFE form and checked the boxes that said “No?”
Hunter: I don’t remember.
Tom: I believe you just made my point, counselor. Do you remember dropping off three laptop computers at the Mac Shop Computer Repair Store in Wilmington, Delaware on or about April 12, 2019?
Hunter: No, I don’t.
Tom: So – case in point. I believe you, because you left them there for ninety days, after which, according to the terms of the repair agreement, which bears a signature that certainly looks like yours, they became the property of the shop owner. And as luck would have it, the guy was a rabid MAGA-hat wearing, conspiracy-believing, Democrat-hating Trump Republican.
Hunter: I have no idea whether or not the laptops belonged me.
Tom: I might believe that, too, if there wasn’t a picture on one of them of you wearing nothing but a pink scarf and a jock strap.
Hunter: That doesn’t prove the laptops were mine.
Tom: Spoken like a true lawyer. There was, however, quite a bit of other material pertaining to you on them, you know – videos in which you have sex; videos in which you smoke crack; selfies; your bank statements; your Venmo transactions; your business emails; your… heartfelt messages… to family members; an analysis from your psychiatrist; your porn searches; your Social Security number; explicit photos of many different women in many different bedrooms, photos of your children and photos of your father, who is now the President of the United States.
Hunter: There could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me, I can’t say.
Tom: And as my Italian grandmother can say, and often does, luck cuts both ways – on the one hand, you were too fried to remember the laptops, and that, strange as it might seem, could mitigate a case against you; and on the other, they had all these… interesting things… about you on them, and they ended up in the hands of your father’s worst enemies.
Hunter: It could be that I was hacked. It could be that it was Russian intelligence.
Tom: It could be that someday I will pick up an unsigned lottery ticket off the sidewalk and it will win me a nine-figure prize. Lots of things could be. Convincing a jury of a particular one that gets you off the hook is another kettle of fish, as I’m sure you know, counselor. And, of course, I’m also sure you don’t recall anything that might be on those laptops pertaining to shady deals involving Burisma, CFEC China Energy Co., Pemex, or illegal securities schemes to defraud certain Native American tribes?
Hunter: You got that right – I don’t recall anything like that.
Tom: So is it safe to assume that you are completely innocent of any wrongdoing that might constitute a basis for these tax fraud and gun charges for which the FBI agents allegedly told someone who told a reporter they have evidence?
Hunter: I say, it was illegal for those FBI agents to leak that information to the reporter’s source in the first place.
Tom: So does your attorney. And you are correct. And that and five dollars will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks – if you don’t order a venti or too many extras. Because if you and your lawyer are implying that something ought to be done to bring those miscreant FBI agents to justice instead of persecuting poor Hunter Biden, then both you and he, sir, are some ten leagues further removed from reality than even the most deluded follower of QAnon. So I would hope that remark was made with the highest tone of irony. Now, the grapevine has it that there is talk of a plea bargain with…
Hunter: I am not going to prison!
Tom: Because you’re innocent?
Tom: So – Alford plea or nolo contendere plea? Have you and your lawyer decided yet?
Hunter: I said: I… am… not… going… to… prison!
Tom: You having nightmares about that big bubba in the bottom bunk? The one who’s gonna make Hunter his [expletive]?
Hunter: That’s not going to happen! We’re getting minimum security, God damn it!
Tom: Sounds like you’re stuck between the Anger and Bargaining stages here. I suggest you man up and move on to Acceptance. There are more important things in this world than whether Hunter Biden cops a plea and does time for a laundry list of crimes of which he says he is innocent but for which exists sufficient evidence to convict him.
Hunter: I had a tragic childhood! Read my [expletive] book!
Tom: You and every no-account white trash redneck, barrio gangster and homeboy thug doing time in every lockup from sea to shining sea, sir. Your Dad was a US Senator. Most of them don’t even know who their father was. And by the way, what’s your excuse for [expletive] your dead brother’s wife?
Hunter: A licensed therapist recommended we spend time grieving together!
Tom: Well, let’s just say that photograph of you posing poolside like a Super Stud in your speedo, a cigarette dangling from your lips in grand French New Wave nihilist anti-hero style with an elegantly manicured foot delicately conveying the erotic tensions of her tanned and shapely leg resting near your bulging manhood, certainly puts a new spin on the concept of grief. Not to mention a tragic childhood. Seriously, you look like a hit man in a Tarantino movie. Is that how you see yourself?
Hunter: That wasn’t her!
Tom: I stand corrected. So you both did a lot of… weeping… in bed together, then?
Hunter: What’s this got to do with breaking the law?
Tom: You’re kidding me, right? I have to explain to you, a lawyer, that what a jury sees when they look at Hunter Biden is an over-privileged, conniving, grifting, Washington insider making millions off the fact that his father has been, for many years, an extremely powerful politician, and now is the most powerful politician in the world? And on top of that, they are looking at a man who is a drunkard, a drug addict and a serial adulterer who even slept with his deceased brother’s wife? Sir, your behavior belongs in chronicles of decadent ancient mercantile empires, not the headlines of the twenty-first century. Your father is not Lorenzo II de’ Medici, nor the Doge of Venice, and you are not Duke Alessandro nor a Venetian courtier. Face it Hunter, whatever the charges against you, the typical, average American federal juror will be appalled by your very existence. You must cop a plea.
Hunter: That’s what everybody keeps telling me! That’s why I called you! How can I get out of this [expletive] crock of [expletive]?
Tom: Sir, it is against my professional principles to offer my clients false hope. That crock to which you refer can only get larger, deeper and more repellently disgusting in which to wallow. Should Fortune shine on our great Republic, and grant the Democrats continued control of Congress in the upcoming elections, then it will be no larger than a bathtub at the Washington Hilton. But if the Republicans gain control of the House, it will be the size of a backyard swimming pool on Foxhall Road. And if the voters, in their ineffable wisdom, also give the Republicans control of the Senate, that crock of [expletive] will be the size of the [expletive] Tidal Basin, and you will be thrown into it chained to your one hundred and forty-two thousand dollar Fisker Karma sports car.
Hunter: What if they get the Senate but not the House?
Tom: The size of the Reflecting Pool – but twenty feet deep, and they chain you to a canvas sack of used Burisma oil drill bits. The only way to avoid a total immersion baptism of [expletive], and I might add, significantly reduce the chances of a fascist dictatorship replacing our current system of government, is for you to do some time in Club Fed. The question is, how to minimize that, and afterwards, have you come out looking respectable.
Hunter: [Expletive]! That’s not what I’m after!
Tom: Understood. But you’ve been a very, very naughty boy, Hunter, and the Republicans are salivating at the chance to make political capital out of that with a series of congressional investigations that will make the January 6 Committee look like a Methodist church picnic. If they get the chance, Hunter, they are going to put all the Republican nut cases up on the dais, grandstanding, showboating, ranting and raving. It’s going to be an all-star parade of MAGA lunatics, Hunter, picking away at you for hours – Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Ron Johnson…
Tom: … Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Scott Perry, Tom Cotton…
Hunter: No, no, no! Make it stop! This isn’t happening! AHHHH!
Tom: … Kevin McCarthy, Rand Paul, Matt Gatez, Marjorie Taylor Greene…
Hunter: All right! All right! I’ll go to [expletive] jail! Tell me how the [expletive] do I make it [expletive] short, for Christ’s sake!
Tom: Listen carefully: it’s not your tragic childhood that will get you the necessary sympathy – it’s your family; your DNA.
Tom: It’s just this simple, Hunter: [expletive] and moaning about your miserable childhood isn’t going to cut it. That doesn’t sufficiently distinguish you from your father – it doesn’t distance him from you enough. What distances him from you to the degree necessary to insulate him politically from your shenanigans is the concept of the family outlier.
Hunter: Family outlier? What are you talking about?
Tom: I’m talking about the Roosevelts – total patricians, descended from the original Dutch colonists of New York, they even looked down on the New York aristocrats of English stock. Neither of the big Roosevelt clans – not Oyster Bay clique nor the Hyde Park cabal – contributed an aerial fornication about the poor and downtrodden American masses. But whom did those families spawn? Two remarkable outliers – Theodore and Franklin, both of whom were great social reformers. And look at Lincoln. His family were all staunch racist slavers, but he became the Great Emancipator, another family outlier who ascended to greatness. Another example, perhaps not quite as profound, but just as valid, is Jimmy Carter. His family were all cut from the same mould as his brother Billy – good old boy peanut farmers. But there was Jimmy, the nuclear engineer who became President, another family outlier. You see, Hunter, you’re not like your father, and your father isn’t like anyone else in your family.
Hunter: He’s not?
Tom: No, he’s a family outlier, too. The bottom line, Hunter, the point you need to make while pleading your mea culpas, is that you are nothing like your father.
Hunter: I’m not?
Tom: No, you’re not. You’re like your grandfather, Joseph R. Biden, Sr.
Hunter: How so?
Tom: Well, Grandpa Joe was a shady alcoholic grifter, Hunter. Just like you, and that was in an established family tradition. I’m sure you’re familiar with at least some of the Biden family history, aren’t you? You know, for example, that your grandfather’s uncle, Bill Sheene, Sr., cheated the US Army out of about a million dollars – during World War I, when a million dollars was actually a lot of money – with a series of sham building contracts, don’t you? After which, he started up a fraudulent “asphalt grave vault” company financed by a Baltimore bootlegger named Arthur Briscoe, and bilked millions more from eighteen thousand bereaved relatives and deceased person’s estates. And that’s when your grandfather started hanging around with his uncle and his cousin, Bill Sheene, Jr., in Baltimore, living the high life off the ill gotten gains of those scams – fashionable address, lavish parties, expensive clothes, sports cars, polo ponies, skeet shooting, yachts, airplanes, riding to the hounds in elaborate fox hunts in the Maryland countryside – the entire Great Gatsby lifestyle. And your grandfather’s uncle, Bill Sheene Sr.? A total self-parody of the wealthy crook – philanderer, gambler, brawler, wife-beater and binging alcoholic whose benders could go on literally for weeks. And by the time the FTC caught up to him and his bogus “asphalt grave vault” scam, World War II had broken out, and he dived right back into shady war profiteering, only this time with your grandfather firmly holding onto his coat-tails.
Hunter: So – are you trying to draw some kind of… parallel… here?
Tom: The parallel, as you put it, sir, is drawing itself. After talking the government into giving him contracts for “plastic armor” made from asphalt, and after making absurd profits in a seven month period, he switched over to a shady ship welding and repair scheme using the “plastic armor” company’s employees, at which point your grandfather became the chief fixer for Sheene and Briscoe, the latter of whom by this time had developed close ties with the Mafia. The so-called “Maritime Welding & Repair Company” grew to a labor force of several hundred workers, and Briscoe and the Sheenes used their profits to buy estates and to hire chauffeurs to drive them around in Cadillac and Rolls-Royce limousines. And your grandfather made sure he got his beak wet too – with his share of the money bilked from the government during a time of war, no less, obtained through fraudulent charges for non-existent overtime on work on US warships that was never done, your grandfather bought a palatial home in Newton, Massachusetts, wrapped his wife in mink coats, dined off the most expensive china money could buy and treated himself to Adirondack elk hunting expeditions on private airplanes. Then something that should be familiar to you happened.
Hunter: What was that?
Tom: The drunken grifter’s crimes caught up with them. There were investigations, fines and penalties. The federal government made them disgorge their illegal profits – some two thirds of the total profits MW&R had made – leaving your grandfather in, shall we say, highly reduced circumstances. And it didn’t help much when the grifter got conned himself in a deal to start up a new business, in which his partner absconded with all of your grandfather’s investment. So he moved in with his cousin at his mansion at Old Westbury, Long Island and started up a crop-dusting business with him. The only problem was, his cousin started hitting the bottle really hard and bled the company dry, so not too long afterward, your grandfather was stony broke. That’s when they moved back to Scranton. And that’s when your father started living the hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck working-class life that he loves to tell stories about every chance he gets. And the irony of it is, the folks on your Dad’s mother’s side of the family – the Finnegans – they made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II. Your grandfather’s brother-in-law, Ambrose Finnegan Jr., was killed fighting it, while your grandfather was scamming big bucks as a war profiteer.
Hunter: So what are you getting at here?
Tom: That you and your grandfather are typical Bidens. And your father Joe is completely atypical – he is an archetypal family outlier, the complete antithesis of the drunken, crooked Irish grifters that define the family. And that is what you need to lean into when you are caging for leniency in the punishments for your misdeeds. If you do a good job of it – blaming your family culture and your DNA for what you became, instead of your miserable childhood, and making sure everybody knows what a good, kind, honest, even saintly man your father is – that’s what’s going to get you out of that crock of [expletive].
Hunter: How do you figure?
Tom: Because it will defuse the MAGA Republican’s vendetta against your Dad. Once the air goes out of that balloon, their urge to crucify you will look totally ridiculous. I’m telling you, Hunter, play this one right, and you might even get off with probation, a fine and community service.
Hunter: By trashing my grandfather’s reputation?
Tom: Your grandfather’s reputation is already trash, as are those of your great uncle Bill Sheene, his son, Junior. You are a victim of the bad seed, Hunter. Play it that way and you will survive.
Hunter: Umm… I think I’ll talk about it with my attorney.
Tom: I suggest that, tomorrow when you get out of bed, you talk about it with that guy in your bathroom mirror first.
Hunter: Tom, your advice about this situation is so… strange… I’m wondering whether I should pay you for it.
Tom: Don’t worry, I won’t refer the debt to a collection agency if you don’t.
Hunter: Huh… I suppose I should say thanks for that.
Tom: You should, but I won’t wait for it. Good bye.